The problem with designing robots that understand their surroundings is that the world has just too much stuff in it. A robot crossing the street would see moving cars, parked cars, people, trees, trashcans, and hydrants. It would then see the antennas on the cars, an empty pack of gum in the trash. Then it would see the ingredients on the pack of gum; 523 words in all. Wait… did that leave move? Needless to say, our robot would be paralyzed.
After interviewing several people in the labor constituency I saw a kind of confusion I have myself experienced. “I read an article about polar bears”, “aren’t whales more important?… they are large mammals, you know”. “I heard that global warming might not be man made”. “Did you know that more carbon is spent manufacturing a Prius than any other car?”. “Will someone please think of the children!!”
Yes, there is much clutter out there, and it is difficult to discern what is the right way to go. Nobody is perfect and no action will be either. But we are not robots, we know to pay more attention to the moving cars than to the wrapper in the trash. That is the only way in which we can make it across the street.
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